Kessel Racing takes race victory at Road to Le Mans

The famous Road to Le Mans races took place at the prestigious track of the 24-Hours of Le Mans last weekend, and the usual drama and excitement within the Michelin Le Mans Cup did not disappoint. In a race that was interrupted by Safety Cars and eventually red-flagged, David Fumanelli took the lead early on thanks to a phenomenal start, laying the grounds for what was to come – and that was race victory in race #1 on Thursday. The 13.6 km-long circuit was also the place for thrilling race action on Saturday, and the three Kessel Racing Ferraris crossed the finishing line in a formation, taking home eighth, ninth and tenth position.

Race #1 – Thursday, 13th June 2024
In the first 20-minute qualifying session on Thursday morning, the #74 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Fran Rueda initially took Pole Position, closely followed by the sister-car #12 with David Fumanelli in P2. It looked like a Kessel Racing 1 and 2, however, the #95 Aston Martin spoilt an all-Kessel front-row.

Under a cloudy sky and with a track temperature of 25° Celsius, David Fumanelli had a phenomenal start, not only passing the sister-car #74 with Fran Rueda behind the wheel but also taking the lead past the #95 Aston Martin.

After half a lap, David Fumanelli had already extended his leading gap to the #51 AF Corse Ferrari by 1.931 seconds. With 23 minutes into the race, David Fumanelli was the first Kessel Ferrari to enter the pitlane, shortly followed by Fran Rueda in the #74 and Orey Fidani in the #57. The Kessel Racing crew did a fantastic job at the pitstop and the #12 with Frédéric Jousset now in the car, was running in fourth place.

But the race action did not last long as a heavy accident occurred, resulting in the race being red-flagged. Although the #12 Kessel Racing Ferrari crossed the finishing line in fourth place, the immediate penalties for the first three competitors propelled David Fumanelli and Frédéric Jousset into first place – and a victory at Road to Le Mans.

Race #2 – Saturday, 15th June 2024
Due to exceptional circumstances for the second qualifying where none of the running cars were able to set a lap time, the starting grid for the second race was based on the best time for each car set during the second Free Practice session.

The three Kessel Racing Ferraris started from P10 (#74), P16 (#57) and P18 (#12) respectively. After a busy start with cars running six-wide, Andrew Gilbert moved up into ninth place coming from tenth on the grid in the #74 Kessel Racing Ferrari, whilst both Lars Kern and Frédéric Jousset made up one position into P15 and P17.

A Safety Car period was followed by a “Slow-Zone”, bringing the field back together.
Due to a number of incidents at the front, the Kessel Racing Ferraris moved up in the ranking order. The #57 was the first to come to the pits for the obligatory driver change and Lars Kern handed the car over to his team-mate Orey Fidani. Andrew Gilbert changed driver seats with Fran Rueda in the #74, whilst David Fumanelli took over the wheel of the #12 Ferrari.

The #57 was doing a phenomenal job running in P2 in the GT3 category, however with the mix-up of GT3 and LMP3 cars, he lost some ground whilst battling for positions. After an epic re-start following yet another Safety Car, David Fumanelli in the #12 Ferrari was putting pressure on the #91 Aston Martin and took seventh place in a great move to also charge past the #73 Porsche.

After an exciting race, the Kessel Racing Ferraris crossed the finishing line with three solid results in the Top-14. Next up for Kessel Racing will be the Ferrari Challenge Europe racing in Jerez (Spain) from 21st to 23rdJune 2024 next weekend.
Ronnie Kessel, Team Principal
“Le Mans is always a very special place for us and to take home a race win and to see our drivers stand on the top step of the famous Le Mans podium was very special. Thank you to all the team and our drivers, who did a great job under difficult conditions throughout the weekend.”

Driver Quote Ferrari 296 GT3 #12 – MLMC
David Fumanelli (Italy)
“I knew the start was the key moment for the race, so I went full attack in the first corners, but then to be honest it got quite messy with all the LMP3s in the first lap, lots of accidents, people slowing down and yellow flags, so it was not easy to stay alive. Then I started to build a gap on the first lap but then the Safety Car came out, which was not ideal for our strategy. However, we did a great pitstop, because we literally crossed the line within a tenth of the limit. At the re-start, Frédéric defended well from the beginning with all the Pros behind, and then the red flag came out. To step on the first step of the podium in Le Mans, with all the grandstands full of fans was one of the greatest experiences and greatest podiums ever.”

Driver Quote Ferrari 296 GT3 #74 – MLMC
Andrew Gilbert (Great Britain)
“This was my first time in Le Mans and I am quite excited to have been here. When I was younger I used to come and watch the race from the campsite, and now to actually be here and race was pretty cool. The general experience has been pretty amazing, it is just unfortuante that we haven´t had a lot of track time so that was quite daunting. I think I had a good start on Saturday, I made a few places up but I think it was just a lot of incidents, Safety Cars and slow zones, so it made it really tricky. But we got the car back in one piece and we go on to the next race, which is the Spa 24 Hours.”

Driver Quote Ferrari 296 GT3 #57 – MLMC
Lars Kern (Germany)
“It was my first time at Le Mans and certainly a great experience. At the end of the day there were two very chaotic races, I was really surprised at the driving standards that were set here. For us it was really just about gaining experience and getting to know the track and we achieved that. Right from the start, the result was always secondary for us. It was a shame to see how reckless the driving was.”